Whatever Happened To Utopia?

As the author of a dystopian novel, I have to ask why, and when, did Utopia become Dystopia? Growing up, I read all the science fiction I could get my hands on. It wasn’t called ‘speculative fiction’ yet, ‘cause it was written by and for the scientifically minded, based on an optimistic vision of science creating a glorious future for us puny humans. Yeah, I was a nerd, a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction Book Club, reading authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and all the rest.

What a vision! We were destined to evolve as a race, get smarter and stronger, master the arts of mental telepathy and teleportation; as science made our lives ever easier, we would zoom into space, build glorious shining cities, enjoy high-tech leisure, and all the rest of the Utopian mindset.

So when did we flip over into dismal Dystopian visions of the future? When did Zombie Apocalypse replace The Jetsons? When did taste in popular music morph from Patti Page crooning “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (1953) to the band Anthrax “Spreading the Disease” (1985) or Megadeth assaulting us with “Countdown to Extinction” (1993)?

Pretty radical change in attitude in that thirty-odd years! What the heck happened? Why did pessimism take the place of optimism? Since Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer all began in the early ‘80s, maybe you could blame it on Ronald Reagan. I don’t know.


He Was a She

                                               Sharla Here

Spoiler alert: If you are reading my little blog before you’ve read Twist, it may ruin a few surprises. Also, if you have not yet read it, some of this won’t make much sense. So, please read Twist before proceeding.

Well, it’s my turn on Myron’s blog again. I talked about the 1970’s and Perfect Fingers last week, but just to keep everyone on his or her toes, I am going to switch gears again, and return to Twist. So let’s talk about Kit.

Kit is a swinging kicking mystery wrapped up in a slightly crazy dark shell. In my Female Tropes blog I focused on Kit’s relationship with Adam and how that disrupts sexist themes, but today I want to talk about what her whole persona embodies. From the first time she sings, “Somewhe-e-ere over the rainbow”, I knew Kit was going to be great.

When we meet Kit we are deceived.

“He disarmed and scattered the gang of kids…He knocked me off balance…He came at me and threw me again… He dropped the knife…I saw his face. He was a she.”


For two whole pages Kit fought off street kids, pinned Adam, and of course was assumed to be a man. After hearing her high voice, Adam allows the thought  that she is a young boy defeating him enter his head. But does the idea that a woman is besting him penetrate his ego? Nope! Adam, like me, was surprised to find that this samurai was a woman. The fact that this is even a surprise to us is something to ponder. Why do we assume that a person who can fight, comes to the rescue, and is wearing dark shapeless clothing is a man? I’m sure there’s a complex, lengthy, and confusing sociology answer to that, but lets keep it simple: that’s all we ever see.

Even fictional characters tend to be confined by the conforming boxes we‘ve built into society. However, Kit is a character who takes her knife to that box.She is not a one-dimensional heroine who fights off bad guys in a tight skirt. In fact, she is wearing a shapeless black robe, and why not? It never makes sense to me in books, movies, or TV shows when a female character is fighting someone in a pushup bra, leotard, and high heels. Yes, that was a dig at you Superwoman.

Well, that’s all folks. Let me know what you think of Kit below. Also, I will be going on a little hiatus for a few weeks, but if you have any ideas for blogs to come,post here or on the Facebook Page. I will see you soon, but not too soon.

Why Do We Love Music?

Why do do we spend hours listening to our favorite bands? Why do we crank up the volume till we can feel the base in our heart beats? Why do we spend money on iPod’s in the hopes that we can listen to thousands of songs? Why do we sit down and play an instrument until our fingers callous over? Why do our ears crave that substance we call music?  Well, a new study may have the answer.

According to Chris Loersch and Nathan Arbuckle, as Homo sapiens evolved into the hairless bi-pedal beings we are today, we also evolved to love music. Their study proposes that music evolved as a way for people to connect to others and “a tool to pass information about the group’s shared mental state to a number of individuals at once”. No shit Sherlock. Okay that may be a little unfair, but I think most of us already knew the purpose of music. Ask most musicians and they will tell you that they use their music as a way to communicate their experiences to others.

Take a minute to meditate on the melodies in your life: Do you know a song that, no matter how dreadful your day is, always lifts your spirit? Have you ever seen the whole crowd at a concert begin to sway in perfect time, not a single person off-beat? Or experienced a blues musician strum the guitar and sing about loss and heartache, only to feel their lament bubble up in your own soul? Have you ever gone dancing and seen all the people feel the beat and tempo of the music with their bodies? Music does and always has elicited emotional and communal action. Hundreds of teen girls swooned and yelled till they passed out when they heard the Beatles, college football fans will scream their fight songs as if their lives depend on it, churches vibrate with the sound of hymnals, and whole countries swell with patriotism as their anthem rings out at the Olympics. So, why do we love music so much? Maybe Jimi had it right when he said, “Music is my religion”. If human beings need music and evolved to loved it, then perhaps music is the religion that all of humanity can get behind.


Climate Change = Conflict

Ever read the paper, logged in to the guardian, or turned on the news and felt like the world was transforming into a more hellish and violent place every day? Well, scientists definitely noticed. New research looked at studies around the world spanning 100’s of years and found a strange and frightening correlation: Climate Change = Conflict! As the numbers on the thermometer mount so do murder, assault, domestic violence, and the number of wars and ethnic conflicts.

In Twist, this correlation rears its ugly head. The climate of 2075 is devastated, the ozone is all but depleted, and Wichita is a place of murder and mayhem. Is this our future? The global temperature is estimated to rise 3.6° F by 2050, which could lead to a 15% rise in crime and a 50% increase in group conflict. My response: Sanctified excrement, we are in for it now…

So here comes the big question: WHY? Why does humanity react to climate change with such violence? Well, no one knows…yet. Some ideas: Perhaps because climate affects economic conditions which also leads to higher crime? Maybe there is a psychological explanation: studies link higher aggression to higher temperatures—I guess I’m not the only person who gets testy when the sun blazes. Or, is this correlation insignificant? Remember, correlation does not prove causation. What do you think?

In my opinion, it makes perfect sense that humanity is affected by climate change. Lobsters are becoming cannibalistic due to global warming, many animals are threatened with extinction, and maybe humanity’s reaction is aggression and violence. It seems the world may have more to lose than just ecosystems and species. The good in humanity may also be at stake.Climate Change and humans